What if the secret to great dog training is to be a frequent “feeder” rather than a strong leader? A skilled reinforcer rather than a strict enforcer?
Over the past two decades, countless dog trainers across the world have embraced the liberal use of positive reinforcement. Often accompanying this trend, however, is an underlying emphasis, inherited from more coercive models of dog training, that each human in the family must be the dog’s leader. But adopting the role of leader using what is known as the “Nothing in Life is Free” training protocol can result in stifling rules that constrain a person’s ability to share affection and attention with their dogs. This focus on human leadership puts puts the burden on dogs to “earn” their rewards rather than placing the primary responsibility on the humans to be generous, precise, creative “feeders” (i.e., reinforcers).
In Plenty of Life is Free – Reflections On Dogs, Training and Finding Grace, renowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her journey through life and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes in narrative fashion how she has come to focus her own training philosophy which emphasizes developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.
What animal behavior experts are saying about Plenty in Life is Free:
This extraordinary book fills the gap between contemporary training technology and ethics. With indelible wit and wisdom, Sdao exposes the naked emperor of excessive control and replaces him with the keys to healthful behavior and lasting relationships. This book will improve more than a dog’s life it will be required reading for the students in all my behavior classes.
Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology, Utah State University, www.behaviorworks.org
Kathy Sdao is as wise, witty, warm, and adventurous on paper as she is on the lecture platform. This is a wonderful book about an issue deep and dear to all of us: how to learn to be thoughtful, kind, and generous to our dogs, to each other, and to ourselves, in a world that pressures us to be harsh, resistant, and controlling instead.
Karen Pryor, Author of Reaching the Animal Mind, founder of www.clickertraining.com
Kathy Sdao is an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who has spent 26 years as a full-time animal trainer. She teaches about a dozen seminars annually, for trainers around the world. Kathy lives in Tacoma, Washington where she runs Bright Spot Dog Training and lives with her two dogs.
Author: Kathy Sdao